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UBC Opera penned by local couple set to make world debut

05/03/2015 06:16 EDT | Updated 05/03/2016 05:12 EDT
Stephen Chatman and Tara Wohlberg have been having some pretty unusual breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations over the past five years.

The husband and wife team have been working hard together on a brand new comic opera that will make it's world premiere at UBC next week.

Choir Practice follows the hectic chaos of an unorganized choir rehearsal until it's brought under control by an unlikely character.

"We went with a choir practice because then you have all the eclectic characters and a montage of hilarity. We thought that would be funny because what choir rehearsal isn't a gong show?" Tara told North by Northwest's Sheryl MacKay.

This is Wohlberg's first attempt entering the world of opera, a change for pace for the poet and lyricist.          

"As a poet, you get to have control over everything. In an opera, the proportions of music to words is five to one. My one little word has to carry this huge freight of clarity, singability and something that's moving the story forward."

Stephen Chatman on the other hand is a well-known composer who has been responsible for creating over 100 choral pieces. He was admitted to the Order of Canada in 2012.

He credits their contrasting talents for the creation of the play, though he also admits it wasn't without the odd confrontational moment.  

"We didn't have many arguments, but we did have one over the word barf. I thought it was funny and wanted it in the play," he said.

But Tara would have none of it.

"The poet in me couldn't use that word, I'd hang my head in shame," she said.

The production has been five years in the making. According to Chatman, it's been well worth the wait.  

"It's been a real journey and an unforgettable experience"

Choir Practice makes its world premier on May 8th and 9th at UBC's Old Auditorium at 7pm.

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Stephen and Tara at the Opera.

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